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Commercial Fishing



Mechanisation of Danish whelk potter reaps dividends. In a project funded by the EMFF, a local blacksmith in the coastal city of Hundested in Denmark has developed a new winch design and handling system to relieve the crew of the heavy lifting involved when whelk fishing.

The vessel Wicki-Alex (H410), skippered by Thomas Jensen, fishes with pots for whelk, brown crab and lobster, as well as gillnetting for sole and cod. Whelk fishing has now become the most important element of the annual catch because whitefish prices have been variable.MECHANISATION OF DANISH WHELK POTTER 2

Thomas Jensen hopes to catch around 200 tonnes of whelk this year, a task he expects will now be easier with the new system.

The design was the brainchild of skipper Thomas Jensen and the company Aquamind, which specialises in solutions for fishing boats. The design involves line guides and new placement of the winch, which avoids lifting pots off the winch. The sorting table and the washing machine is integrated and transports the catch away from the operative when he is cleaning-off barnacles, algae and sand. The over-riding aim of the system is to prioritise the crew’s health and well-being.

 “It’s simply not comparable with before,” said skipper Jensen. “The mechanisation has meant that the crew can work the entire day without being exhausted. No one is worn out. Furthermore, it was also more dangerous before, now the pot just lands on the table, without bouncing around. It’s incomparable!”

“With regards to efficiency; we are not fishing faster than before but we are getting a better product with the washing machine and we can work for much longer. Before we had to stop because the crew was fatigued. Now we can just go on and on. ”
The payback time for a system is estimated to be about a year, based on pre-coronavirus prices.

Fishing with pots is sustainable and can be lucrative, but it is a hard and physical job and often the crew’s backs, hands and fingers are injured when the heavy pots are moved around the vessel. This in turn deters fishermen from taking-up whelk fishing. This project can hopefully convince fishermen that fishing with pots can be achieved without injuries from heavy lifts.

Data from the last two years show that there is a 5% increase in the number of pots handled after the instalment, which corresponds to a 7% increase in earnings per trip.